‘I Was Way Overweight’: Boris Johnson Urges Brits to Exercise To Help Tackle Obesity

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched a campaign against obesity Monday, announcing he has shed over a stone since recovering from the coronavirus.

In a video released by Downing Street, Johnson is seen walking his dog and espousing the benefits of daily exercise.

The prime minister said he was “way overweight” when he was diagnosed with Covid-19 and admitted into intensive care in April.

Last week, a report by Public Health England (PHE) revealed that being overweight or obese could dramatically increase the risk of complications and death from coronavirus. Johnson said he is now running every day and while “gyms are great” there are now alternative exercise and training methods available through apps and YouTube videos.

He stressed tackling obesity and ensuring a better health would also alleviate the pressures on the National Health Service.

Retailers, advertisers and media companies on Monday lined up to criticize Johnson’s obesity plan, saying its curbs risk raising prices for consumers and costing the U.K. economy more than 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) a year.

Proposals for strict new limits on junk food advertising and two-for-one offers in stores were unveiled Monday as ministers seek to control Britain’s growing obesity problem, which has been identified as a factor in coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths. Adverts for foods high in fat, sugar or salt would be banned before 9 p.m. under the plan.

“As the economy struggles to recover, new restrictions on promoting and advertising everyday food and drink will increase the price of food, reduce consumer choice and threaten jobs across the U.K.,” Tim Rycroft, chief operating officer at the Food and Drink Federation, said in a statement. “It is extraordinary that the government is proposing a ban on promotions of food and drink in retail at such a precarious economic time.”

The curbs mark a change of tack for Johnson, who’s previously complained about “nanny state” meddling in the lives of ordinary people. But the pandemic and his own hospitalization in April persuaded the prime minister of the need to act on obesity.

Almost two-thirds of British adults are overweight and one in three children leave primary school weighing too much, according to the Department for Health and Social Care.

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